walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

developers and small towns

I've been trying to understand why national developers putting together projects on the 300 unit + scale seem to drop in more projects (and, obviously, more units) than regionals, at least in Metrowest. (Hey, if you can prove me long, I'd _love_ to see the data.) And I think I'm on to something.

Moss Development has been working on a 120 unit development in Sudbury for over a year, and the interaction with the town is not improving, at least not judging by this:

http://sudbury.patch.com/articles/residents-upset-at-housing-development-prospect

It's the usual complaints: I moved here because I like quiet/rural, this will change the town, etc.

"Kirsten Roopenian summed up the views of many in the crowd when she told Bob Moss, "You are an unwelcome invasion to our town. Nobody wants you here." She left the microphone to roaring applause."

And if you think that's unpleasant, here's the clarification:

""This project is far too dense for this town," she said. "We are a rural community that takes pride in a quieter way of life. Nobody wants a monstrosity like this development in their backyard. We are a community that doesn't like a lot of change.""

Wow.

!20 units is a _monstrosity_? I get concerns about traffic and impact on the schools. I really do. But 120 units on that site works out to .3 acres per unit. You _cannot_ convince me that that is scary dense, and while I haven't seen a site plan, the indications are that it is tightly clustered leaving substantial open space and tree screening. As for the schools, Moss prefers building 1- and 2- bedroom complexes because he knows perfectly well that 3- bedroom units impact school systems and that pisses people off. Moss has done a bunch of projects of this sort (Shrewsbury is done; Southborough and Sudbury are in progress) and in at least some cases, he's picking up stuff that got approved for much bigger Avalon projects that died when the bust happened.

And yet people complain.

I've commented before that if I were a developer, I'd come in high because I knew I'd be knocked down. Moss is local. You would think people would treat a local developer (who is really looking out for many of their concerns) a little better. You would be wrong. People really really really do believe that they are Special Butterflies and the Law Does Not Apply to Them and when they moved out to the country, the country was going to stay that way.

Well, unfortunately for people in Sudbury, all those leapfrogged rural areas are looking really tempting right now to people who'd like to reduce their commute length.

The seller had some perspective: "Many of you people came to town when I was here, and we welcomed you. Never once did I think that not everybody was welcome.""

I suppose Moss must be used to bad treatment by now, judging by this:

http://www.telegram.com/article/20110201/NEWS/102010380

Short form: Moss bought some forest land zoned for housing. Because it had been forest, it was taxed at current use (at the rate for what it was used at rather than what it was zoned for). Because it was taxed current use, town got a window to buy it for whatever was offered on it (first refusal). Moss and the seller told the town twice and twice the town declined -- and now, they've changed their mind and are complaining that it wasn't a valid offer to purchase and therefore their 120 day clock hasn't started. Interesting theory. I don't know how it turned out.
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